Today’s Gospel reading is Matthew 10:1-7; which is part of the corresponding passage from last Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Mark. It is the sending out of the 12 disciples to go and spread the Good News throughout the region.
Each of the four Gospels has been written from a particular standpoint, and by a different author. Their content and style is influenced by their intended audience, and the socio-political landscape of the day. It is now generally agreed (but still heavily debated) that Mark is the earliest (about 60AD); Matthew around 80AD; Luke around 90AD; and finally, John around 100AD. During this overall time frame there was significant upheaval occurring. From 66AD there was a period of great civil unrest, principally between the native Jewish communities and the occupying Roman Empire. It came to a head on 30 August 70AD when the Roman army retook Jerusalem by force, with much destruction, and the complete destruction of the Second Temple on Temple Mount.
The consequence of this was that the majority Jewish population again found themselves essentially in exile and struggling to understand a sense of identity. The Temple was gone – 500 years of relative stability was over. Matthew’s Gospel really speaks into that context – going out of its way to reinforce how the Good News of Jesus Christ ties into the ancient traditions and timelines of its Jewish audience. It is for this reason that Matthew includes a lengthy genealogy for Jesus at the beginning of the Gospel, and reminds the reader at the very end that whatever happens – God never abandons his people (‘Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ Matt 28:20).
And we see it again in the passage today. Matthew, Mark and Luke all include very similar narratives, almost word for word. However, Matthew is the only one to include Jesus’ instruction as to what to say. “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near”.
These are words of encouragement and comfort. Essentially – don’t panic; this unrest will soon be over. And this message would have echoed from previous messages of hope. Jesus is himself quoting his own herald; John the Baptist who, in heralding the impending arrival of Jesus’ ministry, said to his audience ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’ (Matt 3:2). John goes on to make the link with the prophecy of Isaiah (Is 40:3), and both John’s and Jesus’ words can also be seen to be echoes from Daniel 2:44. To the audience it is both fresh, comforting, news – but it also reminds them that God has never broken a promise before, and therefore if the kingdom of heaven is near – it is.
This Sunday we will hear the Gospel reading from Mark 6 concerning the death of John the Baptist, who was killed on the orders of King Herod. It immediately follows Mark’s account of the sending out the 12 disciples, and therefore serves to remind us that doing God’s work is not easy, and it is not necessarily safe. A bishop once told me that to answer the call of God should carry a very large health warning. It is costly in so many ways. But whilst it is costly, and most biblical passages show it as such, we are also shown time and time again the joy and abundance of life and love that comes with following Jesus. It is, in a phrase, Costly Grace, and something I will be exploring in a recorded online service for Sunday this week.
Sunday 11<sup>th</sup> July – Trinity 6
10am: Holy Communion – St Michael’s, Chaffcombe (Rev Philip)
Morning Worship – St Mary’s, Thorncombe.
This is a special service for Sea Sunday.
Wednesday 14<sup>th</sup> July
11am: Holy Communion – St Michael’s, Chaffcombe (Rev Philip)
Thursday 8<sup>th</sup> July – TEZ
7:30pm: Contemporary Spirituality. A short evening worship on Zoom:
Meeting ID: 859 2035 4599
Sunday 11<sup>th</sup> July
A recorded service available on YouTube and on our website from Sunday morning looking at ‘Costly Grace’. I will be looking at the writing of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (in particular ‘The Cost of Discipleship’) and also the Foxes Book of Martyrs.
We pray for those we know who are sick, and those we don’t know, including those we are asked to pray by name for:
Hannah Knott; Rob Allen; Lynne and Bruce Applegarth; Phyllis Baker; Margaret Bandy; Sue Bennett; Sue Cheese; Terry Conway; Nick Frankau; David Goodwill; Mike Heywood; Joy Howard; Ann Jarvis; Frank & Celia Long; Peter McHugh; Diana Rowlands; Ann Ricketts; Jim Tucker; Rosemary Walley; Rosemary Walton; Vivien Wheaton; Alan Wills, Anna Woodward; Pamala Young; Millie (granddaughter of Jane & Alan Rudkin); Gillian Muggeridge; Chris Gould; Brian Griffiths; Peter Hathway; Dorothy Down; Max Woehrle; Michael Mutch; Kelvin Yendell; Winnie Barge; Izzie Luty-Wells; Tracy; Mary Butler; Tom Down; Mary Marsh; Diana Kershaw; Dave Roughton; Reg & Barbara Fawcett; Jill Bishop
We remember all those whom we love but see no longer, and pray for all those bereaved. We remember Clare Booton at this time.
Congratulations to Ashleigh Chislett and Keiren Pope, who got married in St John’s, Tatworth, on 26<sup>th</sup> June.
Please pray for Julie Hampshire & Chris Bingley who get married in Cricket Malherbie on 14<sup>th</sup> July. Also for Thomas Palmer & Lisa Bicknell and their wedding in Tatworth on 17<sup>th</sup> July. We pray with them in their final preparations, in thanks of their union, and their lives ahead together.
Carl Sheehan & Karen Boyland
Olivia Bale & Sebastian Roland
Lindsay Blackshaw & James Spurdle
Congratulations to Rosa Vincent on her Baptism on 4 July in Cricket Malherbie.
Please pray for Charlie Connett and his family and Godparents as they prepare for his Baptism this Sunday in Winsham.
SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK – Matthew 10:1-7
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
<sup>2 </sup>These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; <sup>3 </sup>Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; <sup>4 </sup>Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
<sup>5 </sup>These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. <sup>6 </sup>Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. <sup>7 </sup>As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’
A prayer from ‘Touching the Sacred’ (Canterbury Press):
reach out to touch us in our weakness,
rouse us to walk again,
and nourish us with the bread of mystery, that,
without easy answers,
without cheap grace,
we may bear witness
to your transforming energy in us.
The Reverend Philip Butcher
Rector - Two Shires Benefice (Tatworth, Thorncombe, Winsham, Chaffcombe & Cricket Malherbie)
3 Home Farm
PASTORAL EMAILS - please to: [email protected]
HOME PRAYER & WORSHIP: https://twoshires.wordpress.com
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